Beauty School, Passion, & Growing Pains

I’m in hair school.

The program is 9 months long. I have avoided going back to school for years because I hate it. I hate being told what to do and I hate commitment. I love my freedom. Even if I’m spending my days in front of the TV, they are my days and I decide how I want to spend them. No one is going to tell me what to do!

My passion for hair came suddenly, out of nowhere. I was at the library one day, leafing through a book on beauty, saw a photo of a blonde model that moved me, and I was sold on the profession of “hairstylist”.

I began imagining myself traveling the world, being called on to do celebrities’ hair and makeup. I couldn’t wait to get started, yet at the same time absolutely dreading the next nine months of being held down.

This would mean I would not be able to travel, to go on road trips or spend my days doing nothing. My summers would be spent in the classroom or on the salon floor.

It also meant shelling out $12,000 of my own savings to a school that may or may not give me the education I desired.

But what choice did I have?

I wanted to be a hairdresser and schools across the country all required a nine month commitment. So, I went ahead and registered.

Right now I’m in my fourth month at the school, and time is flying. I’m on the salon floor most days cutting, curling, flat ironing, blow drying and foiling hair. Our clients are all ages — we get everything from three year olds to ninety year olds.

Needless to say, some days are challenging and others really suck.

And this is what I want to talk to you about.

I am passionate about hair, and I even think it’s the new passion that has replaced makeup artistry.

You know what’s funny, though? Once I started doing hair, I have a new found passion for makeup. Almost three years ago, I became bored of makeup, huffing and puffing every time someone asked to book with me, even though it had been my dream since I was five to become a makeup artist! Just like that — I stopped “feelin’” it!

I tried to revive what I had felt was my calling only years before.

I moved away, I looked for new experiences, I got a boyfriend, broke up with the boyfriend, and I even opted for a minimum wage retail job in hopes that something was going to bring back the magic for me.

Passion, I have come to believe, entails feelings.

Strong feelings. The drive and enthusiasm I feel for being a hairstylist and sculpting cuts and color come with a heavy price. It’s called sucking. I think I got this word from Mark Manson, I’m not sure. Remember how I mentioned that some days are great and some suck? Well, in the span of 48 hours, my mood has gone from rage, wanting to pull the hair off my mannequin’s head, to a calm, grateful, peaceful baby.

I am frustrated one minute and completely blissful the next.

It seems like all my classmates and I do is complain about the school. We complain about the instructors, the length of the program, the disorganization, the constant schedule changes, and the fact that they tell us to take up additional classes once we’re out of school; classes which should have been included in the curriculum!!

If you walked by us bitching one day, you will hear moans and groans and “God, I can’t wait to get out of here”.

But here’s the thing. We also really love what we do.

Today, possibly because my instructor is different, I did a kick-ass cut on a client, Samantha. She came in looking for long layers, and I love doing long hair. I went in proudly with my shears and my precision cutting and made sure all strands were even over and over again.

I razored the front layers of her face and I texturized the ends by slicing and with thinning shears. I asked her to play with it and once I looked away to grab my flat iron, I found her swishing her hair back and forth.

“I love it. It feels so good.”

Once I flat ironed her hair, I went to grab my instructor and when I returned, found her playing with it again, checking herself out in the mirror, that unmistakable glint in her eyes that told me she was in love with her hair.

I swear I saw stars that day.

Are some instructors better than others? Sure. Some instructors make you feel stupid. Some want to one-up you, always going in to “fix” your cut after they’d ok-ed it.

Is the program way too long?

Yes — I think hair school should only be 4–5 months long, not nine. Once we learn the basics we can go ahead and apprentice at a salon, earning our ranks on the hairdressing ladder.

Are beauty schools scams?

Some of them. Are they money hungry? I believe so, yes. They take on way more students than they can afford to. Our kits, which cost a fortune, are made up of the cheapest stuff they could get at the beauty supply store. They don’t cost what we pay them.

But, and this is a big but.

That piece of paper that I’m paying for .. because, really, I feel like I’m paying $12,000 for a piece of paper … is worth it. I measure its worth by what I will be able to make with it once I’m done. I judge based on my future earning potential. This is an investment.

Maybe this is the price of passion. I believe that with any passionate endeavour, you are going to have your highs and your lows. I believe that it comes down to what you make out of your passion.

I can become the best hair and makeup artist in my field, or I can drop out and be bitter forever.

It just made me think of all the times when I loved something, or someone. My passion was always laced with fear and my moods towards it swung from extreme love to extreme hate.

I think it’s necessary to cultivate a sense of determination and perseverance in the face of discomfort and uncertainty.

Growing, training, studying, is a tiring, messy, and overwhelming road. They are called growing pains for a reason.

But there are always the days when that one client comes in and loves your work, and you get completely lost in it, and your heart starts to flutter and you remember why you got into it in the first place.

Suddenly, nothing else matters — not the unprofessional bitchy instructor, not the strange hours system, not the cheap kit, not the weather outside…It’s just you and your craft, and you can take it anywhere you want to go.